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TUC names managers refusing to disclose how they voted

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UK - The UK’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), which co-ordinates a network of over 1,000 pension fund trustees, has ‘named and shamed’ fund managers who refuse to disclose how they voted on behalf of their pension fund clients.

In its survey of the voting records of 40% of the UK’s fund managers, the TUC identifies 22 leading fund managers who failed to respond or declined to take part.

These include leading names such as ABN Amro Asset Management, Barclays Global Investors, Credit Suisse Asset Management, F& C Management, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, HSBC Asset Management , Invesco Asset Management , SG Asset Management and State Street Global Investors UK.

Only 20% of the fund managers surveyed provided full voting records - M& G Investments, Baring Asset Management, Morley Fund Management, ISIS Asset Management, Lazard Asset Management, Co-operative Insurance, Allianz Dresdner Asset Management , CCLA Investment Management and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

The TUC survey asked fund managers how they had voted on a range of issues at annual meetings between 2001 and 2002. The Investment Management Association (IMA) which represents UK fund managers, advised its members not to provide the TUC with information on voting records. The IMA’s view is that fund managers should not have to disclose how they voted to third parties, since this would breach client confidentiality.

Subsequently, the TUC sent its questionnaire to its own network of member-nominated pension fund trustees.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, commented. “Managers who have disclosed at least some information throw into stark contrast the minority who will not come clean at all. Workers are the owners of these funds and should know how their ownership rights are exercised.”

Barber said the survey would be repeated annually. “We will continue to identify those managers who are unwilling to put any information at all to in the public domain.”

Currently there is no requirement in the UK for institutional investors to disclose how they voted publicly. A voluntary code drawn up by the Institutional Shareholders Committee in 2002 suggests that fund managers should make their voting policy public, vote all shares when this is practicable, maintain a record of voting decisions and give reasons for their votes. However, it did not recommend public disclosure of voting records.

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